Super-Nova avian flu vaccines shine brightly in human trials

novartis novavax h7n9 (wikimedia NASA)

In space, hydrogen from a companion star can build up on the surface of an adjacent white dwarf star. This hydrogen then ignites in a cataclysmic thermonuclear explosion, emitting a huge burst of light – the transformation into a super-bright star called a nova.

Is it any coincidence, then, that both Novartis and Novavax have simultaneously announced some shining results from early-stage trials with their respective H7N9 vaccines?

“These are very preliminary results, but it appears for the first time that we may have a vaccine that would work against an outbreak,” said Robin Robinson, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

The Novartis vaccine is a cell-culture vaccine which, when given in conjunction with MF59 adjuvant, conferred immunological protection on 85% of subjects after two doses in a 400-strong Phase I clinical trial. The cell-culture technology can significantly ramp up speed of production compared to egg-based manufacturing methods.

Novavax announced that their VLP vaccine candidate induced protective HAI levels in 81% of recipients given 5ug of the ISCOMATRIX adjuvanted-vaccine. 91% of recipients had anti-neuraminidase antibody responses. Like Novartis’ vaccine, the VLP vaccine can be rapidly manufactured, with the VLP technique reportedly able to produce 50 million doses within four months and hundreds of millions within six months.

After a dip in reported cases over the summer, there’s fear that the H7N9 avian flu strain that emerged in China last winter could return to wreak havoc this flu season.

Next: Top 12 Projects in Pursuit of the Universal Flu Vaccine

Read more at Reuters >

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *